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Local artist designs cleats for Kansas City Chiefs players, highlighting special causes | News, Sports, Jobs

photo by: Contributed photo

Lawrence artist John Sebelius designs a football cleat for Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Allen Bailey. The shoe is designed to highlight Bailey’s charity, which aims to provide direction for young people in Bailey’s home town of Sapelo Island, Ga.

Lawrence artist John Sebelius got the chance recently to work on an unusual canvas — the shoes of his favorite football team.

This Sunday, some Kansas City Chiefs players will wear cleats Sebelius designed during their game against the Baltimore Ravens as part of the National Football League’s “My Cause, My Cleats” initiative, according to a news release on the Chiefs’ website.

The initiative allows players to wear custom shoes designed to bring awareness to charitable efforts important to them. Some of the organizations include the American Cancer Society, the V Foundation and the National Down Syndrome Society.

Sebelius, who is the son of former Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius, designed pairs of cleats for six Chiefs players. He told the Journal-World via email that he’s always been a fan of the Chiefs.

“It is truly surreal that I created shoes for a team I have followed and loved my whole life,” he said. “I can’t think of a better design gig or compliment as an artist than to be chosen as featured artist for My Cause, My Cleats.”

For running back Spencer Ware, Sebelius designed a shoe with pictures of blood cells to highlight The Sickle Cell Awareness Foundation, which Ware founded himself. The foundation is dedicated to fighting sickle cell disease, a disorder in which red blood cells become misshapen and unable to properly transport oxygen through the body.

photo by: Contributed photo

Lawrence artist John Sebelius designed these cleats for Chiefs running back Spencer Ware, using red blood cells to highlight Ware’s Sickle Cell Awareness Foundation.

For wide receiver Gehrig Dieter, who wanted to show his support for the KC Pet Project, Sebelius created shoes that featured the likenesses of Dieter’s dogs.

“I am a big pet lover and supporter of animal shelters,” Sebelius said. “(My) dog Norman came from the Lawrence Humane Society, so I was very happy to do a shoe for KC Pet Project and painted three French bulldogs on one shoe for Gehrig Dieter.”

Dieter, a wide receiver, said he was happy Sebelius was able to include all three of his bulldogs on the shoes.

“They’re sweet,” Dieter said of the cleats in the news release. “All of my dogs are on here and they all look pretty accurate — that was my biggest concern — but they all look pretty good.”

Sebelius said he was happy to also design the cleats for fullback Anthony Sherman, who is supporting a cause they are both passionate about — helping veterans.

“I also teach art to veterans who have suffered military related trauma so doing a pair of shoes for Anthony Sherman celebrating Lone Survivor Foundation, which provides free therapeutic retreats for veterans who have experienced (post-traumatic stress disorder) was important to me,” Sebelius said.

photo by: Contributed photo

Lawrence artist John Sebelius designed these cleats with a bald eagle and American flag motif for Kansas City Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman. The shoes are intended to highlight the work of the Lone Survivor Foundations, which aims to help wounded U.S. veterans.

To design the shoes, Sebelius met with the players during training camp and pitched ideas to them. He said he would send them sketch designs, using the colors of the charitable organizations and fitting it to the “architecture” of the cleat. All of the designs were made with brush and pen, he said.

“I love seeing the grouping of all the finished cleats together,” he said. “(I”m) happy they all have their own identity and style.”

Sebelius said he was happy to be part of the project because he believes all of the organizations deserve a spotlight on their causes.

“I am honored to showcase that through my art,” he said.

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